aviation industry

SC: Early retirement for female flight attendants discriminatory

Lance Spencer Yu
SC: Early retirement for female flight attendants discriminatory

FLIGHT ATTENDANT. A female Philippine Airlines flight attendant poses.

Philippine Airlines

The recent Supreme Court ruling lays to rest the yearslong battle of female Philippine Airlines flight attendants against a provision requiring them to retire five years earlier than their male counterparts

MANILA, Philippines – Female flight attendants should not be mandated to retire earlier than male cabin attendants, according to the Supreme Court (SC).

In a unanimous decision on January 10 and publicized on Thursday, March 9, the Supreme Court en banc declared unconstitutional the early retirement of female Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight attendants, saying the requirement lacked basis and discriminated against women.

Under Section 144(A) of the 2000-2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement between PAL and the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines, the compulsory retirement age for female flight attendants was 55 years old, and 60 years old for male flight attendants. 

“It found insufficient proof to support the conclusion that female cabin attendants between 55 to 59 years old did not have the ‘necessary strength to open emergency doors, the agility to attend to passengers in cramped working conditions, and the stamina to withstand grueling flight schedules’ unlike their male counterparts,” the SC said, quoting portions of an earlier decision by the Court of Appeals (CA).

In 2018, the CA previously upheld the lower mandatory retirement age for women, pointing to supposed biological differences that could compromise passenger safety. The CA added that with the early retirement, “petitioners-appellees will have more time to spend with their families and friends as well as the opportunity to pursue activities and hobbies that they may not have had the time to do in the past.”

Besides finding no reasonable basis for setting an earlier retirement age based on sex, the SC also noted that it would essentially force women to forego employment benefits five years earlier than their male counterparts, at an age “not young enough to seek for a new job but not old enough to be considered retired.”

In its decision, the SC “emphasized the fundamental equality of women and men before the law, which is enshrined and guaranteed by the Constitution, the Labor Code, the Magna Carta of Women, and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women.”

The decision will be uploaded to the SC website after the SC Public Information Office secures an official copy from the Office of the Clerk of Court En Banc. – Rappler.com

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